(Voorhees, NJ) – During a conference call with the local media on Tuesday afternoon, Vaclav Prospal made it clear that he has a singular goal for the remainder of the season: to help the Flyers secure a playoff spot.
Prospal was acquired by the club late Monday night
in exchange for minor league defenseman Alexandre Picard and a conditional draft pick in 2009.
“I know that the hockey in Philadelphia is great, and very popular, and the fans are awesome,” he said, while preparing to board a flight later Tuesday evening. “I just want to finish the season strong and make the playoffs, because that’s what every team is striving for right now.”
Prospal will make his return to the organization that drafted him in 1993 in the third round of the NHL Entry Draft. He played 59 games over two seasons with the big club from 1996-98, but spent the majority of his time with the Hershey Bears and Philadelphia Phantoms. His three-plus years in the minors helped him to become a steady and productive offensive player in the NHL, who now has more than 50 points for six consecutive seasons (including a career high of 80 in 2005-06).
|Vaclav, or "Vinny" Prospal played 59 games with the Flyers between 1996-98. (Getty Images) |
Furthermore, his 29 goals this season is a new career high.
“I would say over the years I learned how to be hungrier,” said Prospal, when asked how his game has progressed since he was traded from the Flyers to Ottawa on January 17, 1998. “You appreciate what you have. I spent three and a half years in the minors, and I know how great it is to be playing in the NHL.”
Prospal, who can play both center and wing, hopes to continue his scoring pace with the Flyers.
“I hope I can play the same game I played with the Lightning that I’ve been successful at, and add some offensive production to the team,” he said.
Prospal, who turned 33 on February 17, will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. He hasn’t thought further ahead than this year, however.
“Let’s just concentrate on finishing the regular season here and making the playoffs. I’m pretty sure there’s going to be plenty of time to decide what to do,” he said.
He added that when he spoke with Paul Holmgren, the Flyers’ general manager, the topic of remaining with Philadelphia past this season was not brought up.
“Basically, he just welcomed me to the team,” said Prospal. “We had a little discussion about what’s going on with the team, but we hadn’t talked anything like that.”
Whatever does happen down the road, Prospal would like to be part of a team that has a good chance to win a championship. Twice in his career, he left an organization soon before it won the Stanley Cup (Tampa Bay in 2004; Anaheim in 2007).
“Nobody had a crystal ball when I went from Anaheim to Tampa,” he said.
“When I’m done I [want to] be able to look back and my career and what I have achieved, and I would love to be a part of a Stanley Cup winning team,” added Prospal.
“This team has as good a chance as anybody, because once you get to the playoffs you don’t know what can happen.”